Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Email Password  
Not a subscriber yet?  
Keyword Search
 in   
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews



 
See latest reviews of other albums...


Clara Berea
Ritmo, July 2014

Kenneth Fuchs es un compositor típicamente americano, que se ha decantado por una opción muy clara: la tonalidad. En su música se perciben muchas infl uencias, pero lo que sobresale es su gran transparencia y brillantez, un lenguaje lineal y extrovertido, que parece emparentarle con un árbol genealógico en el que fi gurarían Copland, Bernstein o John Adams. Sus obras están teñidas de un cierto neoromanticismo en el que se pasa con facilidad de lo melancólico a lo exultante, pero es necesario destacar su excelente factura, muchas veces revestida de un gran virtuosismo. Sus obras orquestales son una demostración de una técnica muy efi caz a la hora de crear ambientes y sonoridades de gran belleza. Sin embargo, en su producción pianística o de cámara, a la que está dedicada este disco, Fuchs se nos muestra en una faceta más depurada y concentrada. Es el caso de las piezas para piano tituladas Falling canons, que son siete cánones de muy elaborada construcción inspirados en un tema de una de sus obras de más éxito, Falling Man, basada en los acontecimientos del 11 de septiembre. Su quinto Cuarteto de cuerda, sin embargo, se apunta a la tendencia espectacular y vibrante que predomina en sus recientes obras sinfónicas. © 2014 Ritmo



Robert R. Reilly
The Claremont Institute, January 2014

Ken Fuch’s latest chamber music release comes from Naxos and includes Falling Canons (Christopher O’Riley, piano), Falling Trio (Trio21), and String Quartet No. 5 “American” (Delray String Quartet). The Fifth Quartet, according to the composer, “is alternately lyrical and playful, sometimes brusque and muscular, at times elegiac, and it is meant to suggest the resilience and brash optimism of the American spirit.” It has a subdued, sweet beginning with a gorgeous theme. At about three minutes in, it starts dancing—almost a little hoedown, but the sheer loveliness of it keeps things mellow. One almost wonders if it will dissolve in its own beauty—this glittering, luminous sound. The second movement contains an insinuating, insistent, almost obsessive theme that is passed from instrument to instrument-done pizzicato on the cello—with a doleful melody cast across it that fails to subdue this nervous scherzo. The third movement starts with a pained utterance in several chords. Then Fuchs returns to the exquisite opening theme, but casts it more darkly and somberly. Now the violin begins a sad little dance, which stops, then starts again. It is a bit like some of Shostakovich’s Jewish-inspired quartet writing. The dance dissolves, and the obsessive melody from the scherzo reappears, followed by a moving lament. Everything that has happened so far in this Quartet seems to be gathered up in this movement, including motivic elements of the Falling Man theme. Its wildness and sense of immediacy once again recall Janáček. The closing allegro begins exuberantly. The spirited double fugue of the last movement is a thrilling tour de force of counterpoint and melody. It banishes the preceding sadness. This is jubilant music that fulfills Fuchs’s purpose of affirmation. The Fifth is one of the finest quartets of the past several decades—American or otherwise.

There is little in contemporary music that is as directly expressive as the music of Kenneth Fuchs. It goes right to the heart and stays there. If you think America’s song has already been sung, you need to listen to this. © 2014 The Claremont Institute



Gary Higginson
MusicWeb International, September 2013

The present disc begins with Falling Canons for solo piano. It is magically played by the amazingly versatile Christopher O’Riley also known as a jazz pianist and radio and TV presenter in America.

This disc also includes a Piano Trio entitled Falling Trio, which is also a set of seven variations and is from the same stable as ‘Falling Canons’. I found the trio very moving right from the start and its length is just ideal for its material. The performance is given by the group, Trio21, which commissioned and first played it. What we hear has the complete feeling of total authority, both technically and musically.

In between these two items comes the much longer String Quartet No 5 subtitled rather bravely… This is the highlight of the CD. The Delray Quartet were the commissioners and first performers. They clearly understand exactly what Fuchs’ intentions are. No composer could want more. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, September 2013

The composer’s latest effort, which features work for solo piano and string ensemble, is in many ways a continuation of a creative endeavor which began in 2008. Written over a period of two years, Falling Man musically organized the events of September 11, 2001 around a sequence of 12 descending pitches. This approach is revisited in the sparingly beautiful phrases of Falling Canons…Meanwhile, the recording’s title track, Fuch’s fifth string quartet—known as ‘American’—summons the spirit of its namesake subject matter with robust melodies and elegiac turns as grand as the country and people the music describes. Rousing. © 2013 Scene Magazine Read complete review



David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, September 2013

…the seven canons of this suite [Falling Canons] are structured such that each of them begins and ends on a unifying primary pitch, each of which represents a scale degree in C Major, beginning with B, then A, and G and “falling” down through the entire scale, until the last, which is based on C. There’s a lot more going on here structurally, too, but I’ll not reveal all the secrets of the piece to help motivate you to buy this very worthwhile compact disc…

Falling Trio…is cast in one continuous 13-minute movement that comprises seven distinct fantasy variations… The work runs the gamut of emotions, ranging from grand gestures of arpeggiation over an A-Minor triad to dramatic rhythmic unison octaves in the lower range of the three instruments. It also, according to the notes, features a “reconciliation” theme that is interpolated into the proceedings twice, in which the instruments attempt to reconcile the work’s tonal and non-tonal musical language. This reviewer considers that this goal was met most successfully: The work succeeds brilliantly. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, September 2013

Of Fuchs’s “American” String Quartet…the opening movement may be one of the most drop-dead gorgeous things I’ve ever heard, and that I can’t think of another composer since Shostakovich who has drawn such sonorities from a string quartet. This is a masterpiece and, in my opinion, makes Fuchs the greatest living American composer. The work was written for the Delray String Quartet whose members…play it magnificently on this disc. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



Phillip Scott
Fanfare, September 2013

FUCHS, K.: Atlantic Riband / American Rhapsody / Divinum Mysterium / Concerto Grosso (London Symphony, Falletta) 8.559723
FUCHS, K.: String Quartet No. 5, “American” / Falling Canons / Falling Trio (O’Riley, Trio21, Delray String Quartet) 8.559733
FUCHS, K.: String Quartets Nos. 2, 3 and 4 TROY480

Hearing all three discs in succession is an object lesson for a critic: Many composers who may be initially pigeonholed prove on closer examination to have unsuspected breadth. Fuchs is certainly one, and is a musical discovery I have been delighted to make. As to the performances, they are without exception marvelous. Falletta and the London Symphony need no introduction; neither do soloists like violist Paul Silverthorne and cellist Tim Hugh, while the recording of the orchestra is one of Naxos’s best. Both the American and the Delray Quartets play with commitment and insight; the Americans are perhaps more sympathetically recorded. Trio21 gives an immaculately shaded rendition of Falling Trio: Its members are Jeffrey Biegel, piano; Kinga Augustyne, violin; and Robert deMaine, cello. The most impressive performance comes from O’Riley, a virtuoso pianist long known for his dedication to contemporary music. All three discs are confidently recommended to lovers of new music that has got something to say and does not go out of its way to be alienating. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



Ken Smith
Gramophone, September 2013

…Fuchs’s Falling Canons…and Falling Trio…sound as vibrant in performance as they look prosaic in description. The counterpoint unfolds with Hindemith-like clarity, leaving its respective performers—Christopher O’Riley and Trio21—essentially to reach lyrically for the stars.

Falling Man will be recorded for Naxos by baritone Roderick Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta. I don’t usually fall for such shameless promotion but I may just order myself and advance copy. © Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Mark L Lehman
American Record Guide, September 2013

This new Naxos offers two such endeavors by American Kenneth Fuchs (born 1956), both of them based on the same downward-moving chromatic motive: Falling Canons for piano and Falling Trio for piano trio. Both were written in response to the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center (and to Don DeLillo’s 2007 novel about that event), as an obvious aural correlative to the catastrophic collapse of those buildings. Despite the terrible circumstances that called forth this work, its abstract nature, contrapuntal rigor, and austere unity invoke JS Bach; and if Fuchs doesn’t quite measure up to that supreme master that’s hardly a criticism. What Fuchs does do is to draw a considerable variety of texture, articulation, activity, and character—though not of harmonic color— from a stark and nondescript scalar fragment, and, particularly in Christopher O’Riley’s magisterial rendition and Naxos’ rock-solid sonics, achieve a marmoreal grandeur appropriate to this stern contemplation of a great national tragedy.

The piano trio and quartet are, like Falling Canons, expertly played and recorded in exceptionally clear, vivid sound, its high quality no doubt due in part to the guiding hand of veteran engineer and producer Judith Sherman, whose name on almost any recording pretty much guarantees that everything about its production will be first-class. © American Record Guide



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, May 2013

All of the works here were composed specifically for the artists playing them, and the performances are accordingly totally committed. American pianist Christopher Riley gives a technically stunning, insightful reading of Falling Canons, while the Florida-based Delray Quartet play Fuch’s most recent effort in the genre with great panache. © 2013 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2013

This is the sort of album that seems to well epitomize what a composer is about. And Fuchs’ music is singular enough that what is going on in his music stands out with a kind of hard-drawn clarity.

The Debray String Quartet sounds great in their performance of what is a very pleasing, moving piece [Fifth String Quartet].

The other two works on the program relate to each other as offshoots of a previous work, “Man Falling,” written for baritone and orchestra after Don DeLillo’s novel touching on post-9-11 issues.

The “Falling Canons,” in seven movements, works out some brilliant counterpoint for solo piano, based on a theme from “Man Falling.” There is a set of intricate variations, canons, developed out of the chromatic falling theme motif.

Cascading piano, complemented by long-lined, long-toned figures in the strings leave us grounded, feeling moved and, perhaps, rather transcendent. Trio21 are exemplary on this piece [“Falling Trio”].

Fuchs delivers an extremely powerful punch with these three works sequenced as they are on the CD. The triumvirate of sounds acts as a kind of monumental remembrance in musical terms. This is a high form of discourse indeed. Recommended! © 2013 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



Infodad.com, May 2013

The Delray String Quartet plays…with verve and considerable sensitivity, and this CD as a whole shows why Fuchs’ music is some of the most popular worldwide among performers and audiences interested in modern American composers. © 2013 Infodad.com Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2013

Regular readers to this column will know that I greatly welcome to the record catalogue music of the present day American composer, Kenneth Fuchs. He belongs to the new American school who are seeking to relate with audiences who lost contact with music after the chaos left by the reactionaries at the beginning of the 20th century. This is my first acquaintance with his instrumental and chamber music, both of which are an important part of his output. Falling Canons is a seven-movement score for solo piano coming as a spin-off from the an extended work for baritone and orchestra, Falling Man. Let’s forget the enclosed booklet which explains the mechanics of the composition, for this is, in modern terms, the musical form begun more than three hundred years ago. That same original source also comes into play in Falling Trio, a work for piano trio in one movement divided into a theme and seven variations. The Fifth String Quartet was completed in 2011, and though he subtitles it ‘American’, its roots are in Europe, not least of all in the UK. Basically a melodic and lyric work, that is most readily attractive, even to conservative ears. Commissioned by the performers on the disc, the Delray String Quartet, the score is in four movements taking us through contrasts in tempo and mood. Though little known outside of North America, the performers are obviously a fine ensemble who produce a well-balanced and beautiful tonal quality. I recall Christopher O’Riley winning fifth prize in the Leeds International Piano Competition back in 1981, his account of Falling Canons is pleasing on the ear, while Trio21 are a very recently formed group who make their recording debut and sound very much at home in the world of Fuchs. Much recommended. © David’s Review Corner



Brian Wigman
Classical Net

…this excellent Naxos album could go a long way in establishing Kenneth Fuchs as a legitimate voice in American music. We have here a piano suite, a string quartet, and a piano trio. Three distinct types of music, all expertly well done and very engaging as a whole. © Classical Net Read complete review





Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group